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Europe: Shares recoup losses as miners, financials rise


[LONDON] European shares closed in positive territory on Wednesday, recouping earlier losses as Wall Street opened higher and upbeat earnings published by Lloyds and Glencore gave a boost to financial stocks and miners.

New business activity data from the euro area eased concerns that ultra-easy monetary policy in the bloc could end sooner rather than later.

Europe's pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed up 0.16 per cent at 381.1 points but some bourses on the continent ended the day slightly in the red, like Germany's DAX, down 0.14 per cent.

Britain's FTSE outperformed its European peers with a 0.48 per cent rise, with heavyweight Glencore up 5.2 per cent following a set of full-year results described as the miner's "strongest on record".

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That helped the basic resources index rise 1.6 per cent.

European banks, up 0.5 per cent, also benefited from the earnings update from Lloyds, which reported its highest pre-tax profit since 2006 and announced a share buy-back of up to one billion pounds.

"There's a lot to like in Lloyds' numbers, with profits rising, costs under control, and prodigious amounts of cash being thrown off to shareholders," said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Other European corporates suffered after publishing their results, such as Irish nutrition supplement firm Glanbia , which lost 7.5 per cent after saying earnings growth would slow in the coming year.

French technology consultancy group Atos disappointed analysts with its forecast for modest profit growth and ended the day down 5.4 per cent.

Around halfway through earnings season, more than half of MSCI Europe firms have either met or beaten analysts' earnings expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data, with the bulk of beats concentrated in tech stocks and the energy sector.

Equity strategists at UBS said the fourth quarter earnings season in Europe was "unseasonably strong" as earnings had been revised up, and not down.

"Whilst attention has clearly been elsewhere over the last few weeks, given the correction in equities and sharp rise in volatility, the underlying earnings season has been quietly delivering the goods," UBS equity strategists said in a note.

"Our bullish stance on European equities for 2018 is underpinned by a profit recovery driven by top-line growth, operating leverage and re-gearing of balance sheets," UBS added.